I once met some western european guy with an eager desire to immigrate to Thailand. He seemed to have a highly idealized vision of this south asian country, describing its people as less materialistic, more family oriented and friendly; in sheer contrast to his own west-european countrymen that he (for some reason) viciously criticized as self-centered, materialistic and individualistic. I grew somewhat suspicious about this and I asked him if there was a defect or a shortcoming of the thai culture that he personally disliked. Then he spouted that he didn’t like that the thais were leaving their rural villages and moving to the cities. For him, this was a doom to their traditional roots, since they were on a pathway to become just as the westerners.
Somehow the being rural and traditional was what made a thai a thai according to him. Moving to the cities on the search for a better life, was getting infected by civilization and thus it was a detriment to their pure nature.
When thinking about this anecdote I realize that it is pretty sad that certain jewels of information can’t be heard due to them not being in the international tongue of Shakespeare. This is the case of the ‘wisdom’ of David Saavedra – a former staunch national socialist (as he likes to describe his past self) and now a restless crusader against all types of extremisms – that four months ago was interviewed by the youtuber Jordi Wild in his podcast ‘The Wild Project’. I have taken my time to translate the best bits of his interview from Spanish into English.
(watch at 1:32:41 and 1:41:49)
«Everything is reduced to a great conspiracy of jewish powers, you are the only one that’s able to see them and you choose to sacrifice your life in a fight against them. That is what I did since I was 16 years old, everything was aimed at that mision». – David Saavedra
Although physically he would certainly play the part of the stereotypical rowdy skinhead, ready to aggressively jump onto people of racial minorities; Saavedra tells us that in fact he detested that underground skinhead scene. As a matter of fact he saw himself and his mates as part of the crème de la crème of the nazi movement that had nothing to do with street brawls or physical aggression towards people of other ethnicities.
Jordi: […] Would you have justified beating up a black guy?
David: No. Never. No. Never.
Jordi: Not even at that time?
David: Not even at that time. Not even when I was the most radical.
When asked further about his peculiar stance towards violence, he says that he used to be a ‘racist’ and not a ‘supremacist’. Jordi – quite confused – then asks for an explanation to which David parodically replies in the role of his old racist self .
David: Look, supremacism has the same base as racism, that is that all races are different and that the whites are at the top. That’s supremacism. And racism simply states that races are plainly different and that they are all equal in value, but it’s such a coincidence that the characteristics of the white race are all the best!: the ability to civilize. For example, people say that the black race is primitive, but there is nothing wrong about it, Jordi! Nothing wrong about it! They are like that. We have to accept them. There is nothing wrong about having a primitive nature. We – the whites – would love to live in harmony with nature and not to have these hedonistic societies […]
Like a diamond bullet penetrating my brain, I must say that this is one of the most fascinating – and despicable – insights about racism that I have ever heard.
Although Saavedra’s terminological dicotomy of ‘supremacism’ vs. ‘racism’ doesn’t convince me, his insight does; so I will try to reclassify his two types of racism with new terms that I have built on the definition of «Indifferentism»:
- Differentist Racism: The claim that a certain race is naturally better or superior than others. For example: «Whites are better than other races».
- Indifferentist Racism: The claim that all races have an equal value, regardless of their differences. For example: «Whites are different, just like other races».
The first example is easily identifiable and can be efficiently confronted. Nevertheless the second one is more pernicious. Why? Because of its subtlety.
The statement «Whites are different, just like other races» reminds me of a famous quote by Napoleon (not the french one, but the orwellian one) in Animal Farm: «All animals are equal but some are more equal than others». Just like in the orwellian quote, the «Whites are different […]» motto hides a message in its subtext: The characteristics that we would assign to an advanced society capable of raising complex civilizations aren’t better per se. They just exist inherently within a certain racial group, even naturally. As Saavedra further explains in this episode of The Wild Project, Nazism according to Rudolph Hess – one of the heads of the NSDAP – is nothing more that the rules of nature translated into politics.
Supremacism or differentist racism needs to emphatically justify that a certain race is better. Indifferentist racism by contrast simply accepts ‘nature’ and doesn’t need to justify it. It simply is how it is.
We can also identify that a certain type of ‘white man’s burden’ is also expressed here. Instead of holding the classic ‘whole hearted’ mission to civilize the rest of the world, the indifferentist racist ‘respects’ other races and sees them on a certain degree as ‘equal’ (please note the apostrophes). It is through some sort of dubious self-victimization, that the indifferentist racist climbs up the hierarchical ladder of the races: «I would like to be primitive like the negro and to live in communion with mother gaia, but unluckily I have the burden of modern civilization on my shoulders. Unfortunately I have to be more different than them».
In today’s western society I think that this type of racism can easily be camouflaged in different discourses, since it is not as pornographically confrontational as the typical supremacism or differentist racism.
Under an apparently sympathetic rhetoric, indifferentist racism could even be viewed as politically correct or even as friendly towards other cultures.
Going back to the anecdote of this western european weeb I once met, I do not think that he was aware of the implications of his words, but what I make out of it now – with the insight of David Saavedra – is that this type of racism also carries a fetishization of the ‘other’. The ‘other’ with its different foods, mannerisms, dances and music; is ‘appreciated’ only as an object or as an animal showcased in a museum or a zoo, as long as it remains ‘different’. Nevertheless the moment that the ‘other’ mirrors the ‘viewer’, the moment that the ‘viewer’ becomes the ‘other’ and that the ‘other’ becomes the ‘viewer’, that’s the moment when the fetishization collapses, revealing us in our nakedness as universal human beings. Some people not only accept this, but embrace it in the spirit of mankind. Still though some people – as we have seen in this article – simply don’t. Why? Because these people don’t just want to be ‘different’ like you, they want to be ‘more different’ than you.
Original in Spanish: «Todo se reduce a una gran conspiración de poderes judíos, eres el único que los ves y decides encomendar tu vida a luchar contra ellos. Eso fue lo que hice desde que tenía 16 años, todo estaba orientado a esa misión». (https://www.deia.eus/actualidad/sociedad/2021/05/29/david-saavedra-exnazi-nazismo-secta/1124281.html)
Original transcript in Spanish:
Jordi: […] ¿justificabas una paliza a un negro?
David: No. Jamás. No. Jamás.
Jordi: ¿Ni en ese momento?
David: Ni en ese momento. Ni en el momento más radical.
David: A ver el supremacismo tiene la misma base que el racismo, que las razas son diferentes y que los blancos están en la cúspide. Eso es el supremacismo. Y el racismo simplemente dice que las razas sencillamente son diferentes y están al mismo plano, pero ¡que casualidad! que las peculiaridades que tiene la blanca es todo lo mejor: la capacidad civilizadora. Por ejemplo se dice que la raza negra es primitiva, pero ¡eso no es nada malo, Jordi! ¡No es nada malo! Ellos son así. Hay que aceptarlos. No hay nada de malo en tener una naturaleza primitiva. Ya quisieramos los blancos vivir en la armonía con la naturaleza y no tener estas sociedades hedonistas […]
- Definition of Indifferentism: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/indifferentism